The Main Problem With Indie Publishing Today by Chris Mason: Guest Post

Hello, my name is Chris Mason and I would like to thank Vicki before I start off for giving me a platform to speak with you today.

Today’s topic is “The Main Problem With Indie Publishing Today” The answer is indie authors themselves. Now before you get your torches and pitchforks and try to run me out of town hear me out.

I have been writing since 2008 and publishing since 2013. Almost all newbies authors form bad habits that are hard to break.

These bad habits include:
1. Idol worship of Amazon
2. A lack of professionalism and yet wanting to be taken seriously by the big 5. The Big 5 is slang for the big 5 publishing companies.
3. Not treating being an author as a real job.
4. The over-reliance on social media for marketing.
5. The inability to see the Longview and the big picture. What I mean by this is the lack of a plan or believing everything done in marketing is based on the acquisition of money. As an indie author, I have found I do a lot of things whose purpose is not going to lead to money.
Since each one of these could have its own blog post I will only be focusing on one of these points today. If Vicki invites me back I would be happy to cover the other points, However, today I Will cover idol worship of Amazon.
Don’t get me wrong Amazon accounts for one out of every two dollars spent in the United States and I am impressed at the empire that Jeff Bezos has created but one thing to keep mind is that Amazon is not your friend. I hear the following statement from many new authors “I just put my book on Amazon when should I expect the royalties to start rolling in”. Amazon is not a lamp you rub and money comes out. I will now cover the problems with Amazon and other alternatives authors can use without the pitfalls Amazon intentionally puts in the way.
The problems that will come up when using Amazon include:
1. The push towards exclusivity with Amazon. Amazon gives the new author the idea they can make more in royalties(70% per sale) if they are exclusive to Amazon. While this is technically true there is a high cost to pay. First off 70% is only 10% more than the standard royalty of 60%. The cost for the extra 10% is exclusivity with Amazon and I don’t think the lack of eyeballs is worth it. Don’t kid yourselves selling books is like any other type of sales, it’s a numbers game. There is even an old saying don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That saying applies to selling books just like to anything else.

Next problem with Amazon. The circle of death. If you have never heard of The circle of death it goes something like this. Every day an author’s book sells it moves up in the rankings of Amazon.However, every day that same book doesn’t sell it goes down in the rankings. For the average author just starting out no one knows who they are. The new author hasn’t built any social proof as to the quality of his or her book or credibility of the author to help sell the book in mass quantities. Therefore the book’s ranking will plummet like a rock till the book is so low in the rankings at Amazon that Waldo will be easier to find then the book in question.

The next problem is Goodreads. I will not go into detail about the problems with Goodreads here but understand all books will wind up at Goodreads whether the author of the book wants it there or not. I sure didn’t want any of my books on Goodreads. For more information about the issues with Goodreads please read the free book Authors versus Goodreads by Zoe Desh free at Smashwords
Next, let us cover the problem with the ISBN assigned by Amazon. I know a lot of authors choose to go with the free ISBN that Amazon will give them mainly because it’s free. First off nothing is free.Everything has a cost and this ISBN is no different. If an author chooses to use the ISBN supplied by Amazon to publish their book through CreateSpace. The author may find several doors close to them. Here are some of the drawbacks when using the Amazon issued ISBN number. First off the ISBN issued by Amazon locks your book into only being able to be sold through Amazon’s distribution chains. This means you can only sell on Amazon. I understand that a lot of people claim Amazon can get their book into a library or a bookstore. This is not true. First, most libraries do not consider it a real ISBN because it’s not. It’s issued by Amazon. It is an ASIN. These are not real ISBN numbers.

Only Bowler is authorized to sell ISBN numbers in the United States. Authors can purchase ISBN numbers at this website. ISBN Org at
I suggest buying in bulk to receive volume discounts. It is my understanding that Nielsen does the equivalent in the UK. Here is their website, . Libraries and bookstore need official ISBN numbers to be able to catalog all books in libraries and bookstores. Without an ISBN both of these options will be closed to the average author. I have many more problems with Amazon’s business practices and their treatment of authors in general, however, let’s move to a much more pleasant topic.

The importance of diversification. Now listen to me very clearly. While I am completely against exclusivity and I personally don’t like Amazon and their business practices I would recommend using them as one of your distribution channels. Keep in the back of your mind that sales is a numbers game and you as an author need as many eyeballs looking at you and your books as you can get.
I’m going to quickly run down how to turn your one product into many products and how to get seen in wide release as fast as you can instead of choosing exclusivity with Amazon.
Let’s say you as an author wrote The Joy of flying. It’s a great book on how to get your pilot’s license. You have worked hard on it and you want to sell it to as many people as you can. So here are the steps.
1. Let’s make an ebook . First I’m going to make an assumption that you have a Word document. I’m also going to assume that you have paid for a proofreader and copy editor. Those two jobs by the way or different. A proofreader will look for grammar and spelling errors in a manuscript all a copy editor will actually change aspects of the manuscript. Next I’m going to assume that you have paid for a cover. While the cover is very important to book sales please be realistic in what you’re going to spend and do not spend more than $60 for a cover.

Now that we have all the necessary parts for an ebook let’s go shopping for a distributor. There are three major players for ebook distribution. They are Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital.

I have already discussed the problems with Amazon so I’ll be moving on to the pros and cons of Draft2Digital.

Draft2Digital will distribute your book to all the likely suspects of book retail.These include Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble. The benefits of Draft2Digital are they are easy to use, have phone support, and will pretty much take any manuscript and help an author format the manuscript into a book. On top of that while Drafr2Digital doesn’t do a lot in the way of print books, they will help format a book into a 6 by 9 perfect-bound paperback. The website is located at .

Remember back I mentioned everything has a cost. The cost of having Draft2Digital format a book is that the book will not be distributed to as many retailers as possible.

Moving on to the last ebook retailer on the list Smashwords. Smashwords is my retailer of choice as they are the largest ebook retailer in the world and they have the widest distribution possible.

The cost of the incredibly wide distribution of a book is that you as an author have to use the Auto Vetter system. The Auto Vetter will automatically check for errors in formatting. However, using the Auto Vetter is going to be painful to use. The Auto Vetter is so hard to use because the books that Smashwords distributes have to be available in a variety of file formats and each format has its own specific requirements that must be met to be included in that retailer’s catalog. Some of these file formats are for e-readers that are no longer being made.

There is an easy way around the painful Auto Vetter. Outsource the format work of the book. If an author uses a service such as Fiverr he or she can get their book formatted for about $15-$200 depending on length. Author’s worried about losing sales to people who have Kindle devices don’t worry. All Smashwords books are available in Mobi format. the Smashwords website can be found here .

Both Smashwords and Draft2 Digital offer free ISBN numbers. In both cases the author keeps the rights and for filing reasons the company is put down as the books publisher.
Congratulations the author now has an ebook. This will be invaluable when review copies or ARCs( advanced review copies) are needed.

I hear what someone in my audience is saying. “What about print?” The print field is somewhat larger than the e-book field.

The main players are as follows: Amazon’s CreateSpace, Bookbaby, Ingram, Lulu and Print Ninja. unless the author in question has thousands of dollars we can knock some of these options off the list right now.

CreateSpace gets knocked off for its lack of distribution options.

Bookbaby and Print Ninja get knocked off due to price. Ingram gets knocked off due to complexity so that leaves us with Lulu.

I hear somebody out there saying “wait somebody told me Ingram was a great company why shouldn’t I use them”. Ingram is a great company. They are the Microsoft of books. Ingram prints about 99 percent of the world’s books.For this reason, their criteria for formatting is tedious and time-consuming they also charge fees up the wazoo. There is a fee to set up an account with Ingram and there is a fee every time a change is made to a manuscript. So for our purposes, they were removed as an option for a paperback.

Bookbaby was removed due to cost. While they will do both ebooks and print their fee is about $2,500 for a 25 book minimum. That leaves Lulu as the only player left in the game.
first off let me tell you I’ve heard on the web that Lulu is more expensive than its competitors. I believe Lulu has more benefits to offer than its competitors. For example, Lulu can offer hardcover, comic book, photo book, calendar and many other print options. Lulu also offers two types of paper. Create space in comparison only offers one. Lulu also offers flat-rate royalties. This means you set your royalty rate in dollars not in percentage.

For example, you may want a $4 per book royalty rate. if so Lulu will build that into the price. Lulu does offer to distribute your book to brick-and-mortar retailers for an additional fee. I personally do not take this option as I don’t think it’s a good return on investment. That being said, it’s still an option that most other book printers don’t offer. Lastly will do bulk printing and give authors volume pricing. Another good benefit to Lulu is its ease of use. For example, if you have all the documents you used for your ebook you have all but one document necessary to get your book up and ready to go at Lulu. the one missing document, of course, is the back cover. Once you have that it should take you no more than about 10 minutes to put your book up and have it ready for sale at Lulu.
Now onto audiobooks. If your book is suitable for audio you can open up several more markets by just making an audiobook.

The two major players in this Arena are ACX owned by Amazon and Authors Republic owned by I understand the attraction to Amazon’s ACX. I mean who wouldn’t want their audiobook done for free. However, as mentioned before everything has a price.

Just like with Kindle unlimited and the exclusivity clause that prevents you from selling your ebook or paperback anywhere( including your own website) but Amazon the same goes for ACX. However, instead of a 90-day exclusivity clause use for Kindle Unlimited. The exclusivity clause for ACX is seven years. It should also be noted that just like Kindle Unlimited the only distribution you get with ACX is

It is, for this reason, I suggest going with authors Republic. They can get you into Amazon as well as many other audiobook retailers. think of Authors Republic as the audio equivalent of Smashwords. They have tools like ACX to help you make your audiobook or you can submit an audio track already made. the latter is what I recommend. Since I use them I also know for a fact that authors Republic allows you to attach bonuses to your audio files.

For example, one of my audiobooks comes bundled with the companion e-book. I have built the ebooks price into the cost of the audiobook so I don’t lose money. It’s a kids book which is in essence a book and a tape bundled together. the Authors Republic website can be found at the following web address. . A word of caution. just like every author should know the audience for their book. They should also be aware that not every book is suitable for every format. Well as an author you have written the joy of flying. It is in all available formats. This includes audio, ebook, and audiobook.

If you distributed through authors Republic, Lulu, and Smashwords your book should now be available in about 31 different retailers around the world. How is that for eyeballs?

I could give you some more retailers to sell the Joy of Flying but I will save that for another day.

I have a homework assignment I would like everyone reading this blog post to do something for me. I would like you to read the free ebook Why Authors Fail: 17 Mistakes Self-Publishing Authors Make That Sabotage Their success( And How To Fix Them). The book is available at Smashwords. .I just think this is a really good book for helping Indie authors get set on the right path.

I would like to thank you all for letting me share my experiences with you today. Thank you again Vicki for letting me speak and share my views. I hopefully will be able to talk to you all again real soon. thanks for stopping by.

Here’s where to connect with me and learn more about me and my books

Link to my books in e-format:

Link to my books in print:

Link to my books in audio:

Social media links


Twitter @Chrismason9595

Bio: I live with my wife on a big rig that goes cross country. I mainly write in three genres. Children’s picture books, coloring books for both kids and adults and internet reference guides about free digital resources on the internet.


95th Anniversary of the Dolomite #3 Mine Explosion in Pleasant Grove, Alabama


History is rich and powerful. There is something so empowering about knowing what happened almost a century ago.  These people in this small community lost so much. There is more yet to tell. I hope you will contact me if you know anyone that was injured or fatally injured during this explosion.

November 22, 1922

Pleasant Grove is a small community on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama. The people that settled there in the late 1800’s were farmers by trade. In 1916, Woodward Iron and Coal Company opened a mine in the community and became the employer of most of the men in the area.

It was Wednesday, a chilly damp November morning when the miners left their homes and headed off to the Woodward #3 mine. November 22, 1922. True it started as all mornings began in this small farming and mining community between Bessemer and Birmingham Alabama. Children watched their fathers and older brothers leaving for work at the Woodward # 3 mine just as they did every other morning. Children would run alongside their fathers as they drove the truck to work with their lunch buckets and containers of milk in hand. Children would make a game of racing the family truck down the dirt drive to the main street. This morning was no different. The younger children went to school, the men went to work.

These men, old and young passed the Methodist church and the town cemetery on their route to the mine. Arriving to start their shift that morning, no one knew that so many would never make it out at the end of the day.


Mining site

An example of the size of an operating coal mine during the same time period.
An example of the size of an operating coal mine during the same time period. 

Work begins 

Everything was normal and work was progressing until the middle of that Wednesday afternoon when there was a freak accident. Three mine cars loaded with coal from deep inside the mines were being hauled to the mine entrance. As they reached the top of the incline there was a break in the cable and all three cars roll back into the entrance of the mine. As they rolled back, they severed an electric cable, which caused a spark. When the spark ignited the coal dust, there was an explosion in the mine opening.

The explosion which was both heard and felt in Birmingham, which is nine miles away. Over 400 miners were inside the mine at the time. The wreckage of the coal cars, the fires, and the poisonous gasses that remained in the mine entrance trapped them inside. The fifty men that were working in and around the mine entrance were immediately killed as the flame shot 1000 feet up and out of the mine and flared 400 more feet across the yard to the Tipple. At this point, no one knew the fate of the others trapped inside.


The three coal cars sliced the electric cable of the tippel which sparked a fire with the coal dust and the gas in the surrounding mine opening.
The three coal cars sliced the electric cable of the tipple which sparked a fire with the coal dust and the gas in the surrounding mine opening. Source

Coal Miner

Over 400 miners were in the mine when the explosion occurred.  Many ended up walking out in Dolomite and slowly making their way back up the hill to Pleasant Grove. their families were insure of their fate as they walked home.
Over 400 miners were in the mine when the explosion occurred. Many ended up walking out in Dolomite and slowly making their way back up the hill to Pleasant Grove. their families were unsure of their fate as they walked home. 

Families respond

The family members heard the explosion from all over the community in western Jefferson County. The noise caused all the women and children to come out of their homes and start heading to the mine. They came on foot, in cars, and trucks. They carried the small children as the older children helped with their brothers and sisters. No one knew what to expect. There was smoke over the mine and they knew that they were going into a situation they had all dreaded and feared. No one at this time knew how bad it was. The entire community raced to the number three mine.

Dolomite coal mine

A pohotograph of the Dolomite portion of the #3 mine. Many men ended up here after walking through the tunnels to safety.
A photograph of the Dolomite portion of the #3 mine. Many men ended up in Dolomite after walking through the tunnels to safety. 

Inside the Mine

The scramble that took place inside the mine made news once survivors came out of the tunnels. The stories told that were then reported in the newspaper about the acts of individuals. One such story told of the Foreman that asked thirty men to remain and help secure the area with canvas and stone to block the “after-damp gas”. One man refused to stay and his body was later found, once the fans had been turned on and the air cleared, just a few feet from the brattice they had built.

Many men were able to escape using the underground tunnels arriving at the other entrance in the neighboring town of Dolomite several miles away. The tunnels had allowed them to escape the gasses which were released by the explosion at the front of the mine.

Men told of stepping into slight niches and blocking themselves in with their own clothing to escape the gas. The rescue of the men trapped inside continued all night with family standing as close to the mine as allowed. Mothers, wives, and children watching as one by one a man would struggle to the top and exit the mine. They would gather the miner close and hurry home relieved that their little family had been spared the fate of the families of those 89 that never made it out.

The Associated Press reported the next day that the vigil went on all night with men struggling to exit the mouth of the mine. Some men appeared leading the wounded out with them. Some of the men that eventually were found dead had gone back to help others. The AP also reported what they called a Joyous Reunion,

“Joyous reunions occasionally relieved the sorrowful scenes. One small girl gave a cry of delight as a grimy miner emerged, his face smoke-blackened and his clothing bearing mute signs of his struggle to reach the surface in safety.

The girl threw herself into his arms and they hurried off. Another aged woman collapsed as she greeted two sons after hours of waiting. The boys, meeting rescuers in the mine on their way out and learning the workings were safe from poisonous gases, had turned back to help in the rescue, keeping their mother in suspense until they reached the surface exhausted.”

This was a community in every sense of the word and everyone felt the effects of that day. These men were family, friends, and co-workers and they were heroes going through a nightmare of unfathomable proportions.

First Methodist Church and cemetery
First Methodist Church and cemetery 

Many of the ones that died are buried in the small Pleasant Grove cemetery. The cemetery that is right outside the entrance to the #3 mine. The cemetery is located directly across the street from the Pleasant Grove Methodist Church. Tombstones that state that men like B.T. Dobbs a thirty-three-year-old man were killed in the Woodward Iron Company’s #3-coalmine explosion November 22, 1922.

Twenty-one-year-old Hershell Warnick and Tom C. Warnick, his thirty-eight-year-old brother both were lost that day.

Young men like Hugh Connell who was just twenty-four and men like fifty-eight-year-old D. A. Busby (Andy) all left families grieving their loss.

There are two Bolton’s, John and Will as well as Marvin and Tim Brown. I have not been able to discover if they were brother, father, and son, or any other relation or even their ages. The news did not carry the same information about the black victims of the explosion as they did for the white. They rarely mentioned their name and gave no tributes or details. I was able to find a list of black victims on the Alabama Mine Accident report online. Doc Byars and Arthur Carlisle are both explosion victims of that day.

The men that were wounded or killed that day touched most of the families in the area known as Pleasant Grove.

Their tombstones stand as a silent tribute to the 89 men, marking the most tragic day in the history of one small farming community in Alabama.


In researching this article, I found that the news of today is much different from the news coverage of the 1920s. The newspaper’s from all over the United States shared the tragedy and yet they gave sparse information about the majority of the dead as they were black. The heroics of those black survivors and victims have not had their story told.  I have already mentioned a few of the dead that did not get their stores told. More names are, John Cheecom, Layman Claudin, Will Coleman, Arthur Davis, F. Davis, Cornelious Dixon, and the list goes on.

I would love to find the family of any of the victims that were black to share the stories have made it down their family line.  You can contact me at and I would love to share your ancestor’s story.  You can also leave me a comment and I will respond and share the family oral history.

It is a wonderful time we live in today where everyone is just as important as the other especially when tragedy strikes.  I am also on this 95th anniversary paying homage to the almost 60 black miners that did not make it out alive on November 22, 1922.

© 2010 Sojourner McConnell

YouTube Special She Thinks She Knows So Much!

This is not the first or second time I have shared a “she thinks she knows so much” moment.  This one might be the one that causes me the most confusion and hardship. My granddaughter is seven. She is addicted to YouTube videos of the DIY chemists that make and work with slime.

Saturday morning errand time and the seven-year-old wants to go with.  She did hear that the dollar store was one of the stops I was making for mailing supplies. What child doesn’t want to go to the dollar store with a grandmother that has a credit card?  The concept of limits is new to this child. So off we go, we get to the store and she grabs two bottles of school glue.  The white kind that we all remember from our own school days.

Errands are complete, books are mailed off to Denver and Lubbock, and we are headed back home.  One hour later, I am presented with the best smelling slime ever.  The little chemist has created a slime masterpiece.  What does a “thinks she knows so much”, Grandmother do?

Out comes the smartphone with the ever so groovy camera. “Let’s make a video of this amazing slime. You can upload it onto my YouTube channel and we can show the world your amazing slime.”

YAY! The video is made. Said video is uploaded. Grandma shares the link on Facebook and likes are being given. 

Seven-year-old Chemist and all around know it all decided she didn’t like my name being on her video so she changed my YouTube channel to “Random Stuff of DIY and some slime“.

This is my new name now on Google, Google Plus, my emails, and my YouTube Channel.

Welcome to another weekend with the seven-year-old chemist and all around know it all and her Grandma who thinks she knows so much.

Here is her video on our new channel with the ever so embarrassing and not professional writer name.


Perhaps I should have had a clue when she said, pay no attention to the Vicki Goodwin name.

I love being around my grandkids.  They make life hilarious!!

Singapore Writer Wins Praise for International Thriller Novel GUN KISS

Press Release

November 2017

A Hollywood starlet

Gun battle with drug lords

A sizzling romance


Singapore writer wins praise for new international thriller novel


Gun Kiss by [Talib, Khaled] 

The cabin door flung open, banging against the wall. Three assailants rushed in and began firing. More bodies fell as the projectiles chipped splinters from the wooden walls.

Blake fired back. He made every bullet count as he depleted the magazine. One of the assailants dropped forward, while the other two staggered backward and collapsed outside.

Blake fed a new magazine into the Ruger then crawled to the cabin’s door and slammed it shut before rolling to the corner. From across the cabin, he checked survivors: only him and Goldie. He breathed slowly, trying to work past the tightening knot in his chest…

GUN KISS is a high-octane thriller that begins in the prologue as a Lincoln re-enactment event in Washington, D.C. and results in a hostage being taken and a bomber intent on thievery. The story heats up as a missing Deringer from The Ford Theatre Museum triggers a series of escapades and encounters around the world by disparate individuals, each with their own hidden agenda.  There is also a fierce battle against drug lords and a red-hot romance with a Hollywood starlet.

Singapore-born Khaled Talib’s third novel is a departure from his earlier two novels – Smokescreen and Incognito – which has been described as political thrillers, GUN KISS is more genre bender with intrigues and counter intrigues played out against a backdrop of the war on drugs.

The book has already won high praises from leading international authors like Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author of The Rising. Land who has written 25 novels, said: “Gun Kiss is a whip smart thriller that brings to mind Don Winslow’s masterful work that includes, most recently, THE FORCE.  Khaled Talib rockets to the top of the pop culture pack with a tale in which every page is chockfull of angst-riddled action and searing suspense.”  

Gayle Lynds, co-founder of the International Thriller Writers and New York Times bestselling author of The Assassins, also praised Khaled for his work. “Gun Kiss by Khaled Talib is a terrific adventure involving the FBI, drug lords, movie stars, and Russian generals.  Grab your copy, drop into your favorite reading chair, and prepare yourself for breathless suspense.”  

To be released by Canada’s Imajin Books in Fall this year, GUN KISS introduces protagonist Blake Deco, a former Delta Force soldier who now runs a taco restaurant on Sunset Boulevard.

Khaled took just six months to complete GUN KISS as he himself got caught up in Blake Deco’s adventure. “Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have been able to write an 80,000-word novel in such a short time. My first two novels took me a few years to complete. With GUN KISS, I was as supercharged as the book’s main character. I worked on the story every single day.  The characters, the locations, the dialogue, and action had me on a high, so much so that I often had to remind myself to surface for air and food. I hope GUN KISS readers will get to feel the same high as I did and enjoy reading it as much as I did in writing the book.”

GUN KISS has also received advance praise from the renowned Midwest Book Review, to be officially published once the book is released.  

 Preorder for December 1, 2017, release here! 

Khaled Talib is the author of two other thriller novels: Smokescreen and Incognito. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association. He is a former journalist turned public relations practitioner. To learn more about the author, please visit The rights of the author’s first two novels are represented by The Evan Marshall Agency.

For more information, contact:

Cheryl Tardif

Publisher & Acquisitions Editor, Imajin Books

Khaled Talib

Tel +65 96958543





Banners Make the World Go Round! Plus a bonus Giveaway opportunity!

Pick up When a Pachyderm Comes to Visit and Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas in time for Christmas.  The reviews state that children will really enjoy these books.

Pachyderm 2When a Pachyderm comes to Visit available @ or get a signed book @ #ChildrensBooks

Here’s my special thank you to Renee Gauthier for making me these incredible banners for Dolcey.  You all know how important these Indie group members on Facebook are to me. This is where I meet amazing people like Renee and my illustrator Zsa-Zsa Venter. I could keep mentioning names on and on like, Nancy, Eva, Stephen, Audrey, MandyCj, and on and on.


Since you hung with me this long, I am sharing a chance to get a free signed copy of 31 Days of October Volume 2,  through Goodreads. You must hurry deadline is November 21, 2017.

Click here to Enter

31 give


Authors Talk About it awards Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? an Honorable Mention!

I am one proud writer. I had my book Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? entered into the Authors Talk About it, 2017 Book Award Contest in the children’s genre and this book was awarded this amazing Honorable Mention.

ATAI Honorable Mention

I am so honored to have been awarded this award.  This is the first time they have done an Honorable Mention and I am so touched to be one of the first. It means the world to me.


One of the perks of the contest is a professional critique which provided a 5-star review.  This has been the most rewarding response to book 1 of the Dolcey Series.


“The colorful imagery within Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?, illustrated by Ellie Barrett, add an additional element of fun and fantasy to Sojourner McConnell’s story. These occasional images help bridge a gap between young students who are ready to read more difficult books and embrace more complex concepts with readers who aren’t quite ready to give up the picture book feel. Who’s That in the Pajamas? is a very well-written story and has a fun story line all while sharing a message of hope and a lesson on how to cope with big life changes that are out of one’s control. Sojourner McConnell’s Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?, the first in her The Dolcey Series, would make for a wonderful tool for parents who are looking for something to help their children deal with a big move away from family and friends. It’s simply a must read!”
Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

ATAI 5 Stars 900

Just as exciting and appreciated is the second place award from the Virtual Fantasy Con Awards for Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? This one felt special because it was voted on by readers and fans of Docley. I never expected to come in second place.  It was amazing.


2nd place children's Fantasy award



When 2018 comes along, When a Pachyderm Comes to Visit will be entered for the contest and I hope that they find the value in this new story.  This book is now available in paperback and Kindle and will be warming hearts all over the world.  I hope you will join Dolcey and me in this magical and fun adventure.  When a Pachyderm Comes to Visit, is on sale only one more day. Then the price goes back up to $1.49.


Come meet Docley and find how an alleviator can improve one life after another. She is one fun fairy that has many adventures and many children’s stories to share.


A special visit to the Art Gallery of Nancy Z. Quinn, Wildlife Artist and Author








      What happens when an internationally known Florida wildlife artist moves to the wild and woolly west?  Well, first she finds a cougar on her swing set and a moose in her driveway!  But that’s only a small part of the adventure.  Nancy was born in Michigan but grew up in Florida, where she developed a great love of animals and nature.  After college, she worked as a conservation law enforcement duty officer for the state, while volunteering her spare time at wildlife rehabilitation centers where she brought their birds and reptiles into the schools to educate children of all ages.  Over the years she has handled many domestic and exotic species, including snakes, cougars, leopards, and tigers.

   She left law enforcement to pursue her passion for wildlife art, and after receiving two World Wildlife Art Championship Awards, her new vocation became a fulltime career.  But once she married an Air Force officer and moved to Washington, D.C, all this suddenly changed when, a few months later, her husband survived the September 11th attack on the Pentagon.  Their life would never be the same as the months turned into years, and she found herself raising two small girls while her husband devoted his efforts to the war.  Finally, the day came when he retired and they were at last able to enjoy a new life, this time in the mountains of Montana.

    Here they discovered a new world of exciting and unusual adventures.  They soon learned how unprepared they were for the challenges ahead, both comical and adventurous.  The humor of their early encounters with cattle and local customs merely masked the more ominous confrontations yet to come with predators and nature.  Through their journey they discovered the true meaning of the “Code of the West,” a concept which has not entirely vanished from the American way of life.

     Encouraged by friends and family alike, Nancy recently published her first book, Go West, Young Woman!, and now is working on its sequel.  She still happily resides on her mountainside with her husband, daughters, dogs, and horses, while continuing to paint and write about her experiences living in the west.  The book can be found on,, and in bookstores.  Personalized, signed copies are available through Nancy’s website at

Here is the gallery of her artwork.  This video will show you the highlights of her talent.  Scenes from her homestead in Montana, and animals she has met along the way.


Find Nancy Quinn in more places around the Web.

Visit her website, Quinn Art

Learn more about her first Book or view the Video Book Trailer

Books are also available through Amazon and her Publisher

Find her on Facebook or Goodreads

Subscribe to her YouTube Channel

Take a moment to comment so that the Princess of Montana can get to know you. She is one of the most genuine and kind women I have had the pleasure of knowing.  One of her readers recently called her Princess of Montana, and I knew I had to find a way to fit it in this post.  Enjoy meeting Nancy Quinn and sharing her talent.

New Release Franky The Finicky Flamingo by Wanda Luthman

  • Print Length: 15 pages
  • Publisher: Lilacs in Literature (November 3, 2017)
  • Publication Date: November 3, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B076BT4SXF
Hey there! Do you have a picky eater? If so, they’re going to love Franky, the Finicky Flamingo—a beautifully illustrated rhyming picture book.
I was a super picky eater when I was a kid. No kidding! My Mom fed me a canned pear every morning along with a healthy breakfast of eggs and bacon and orange juice (those were the days right, when Mom’s cooked full breakfasts for their children before school!). Anyway, I gagged on the “string” in that pear. I must have had a very sensitive palate to be able to feel that. Today, I love pears! But, I still prefer the fresh ones over the canned ones! Ha!
I couldn’t drink orange juice with pulp in it—I’d gag on the pulp!
And I loved hot dogs! I ate a hot dog every day in Elementary School. I packed my lunch and would eat a “cold” hot dog (it was cooked just not heated up) with no bun! That’s what I wanted!
I guess my Mom just decided not to argue and was glad I was eating something.
Then, when we went to visit my Grandparents (Mom’s parents), they tried to provide me with the best bologna they knew of (yes, I loved bologna too). So, they bought some German version from the deli. I nearly gagged on it too. My Mom was so embarrassed. We had to go to the Piggly Wiggly to buy the Oscar Meyer version. The only brand I would eat.
But, then fast-forward to my own daughter. She was nearing school-going age and up until then would only eat pepperoni slices. I was mortified at the thought of packing that for her lunch. So, we decided we’d try a sandwich every child loves—peanut butter and jelly! Now, she liked jelly on a spoon and peanut butter on a spoon but hadn’t tried them together. We decided we would put them together on white bread for dinner one night to see if she would like it. We worked with her for an HOUR to just try it. Finally, she tried it and ran to the bathroom barfing. Yep! That’s my child!
So, needless to say, I packed her sliced pepperoni (no bread) for her lunches and yes, I was embarrassed but decided, like my Mom, not to fight that battle. She is 23 now and loves all kinds of foods.
My advice to Mom’s and Dad’s dealing with picky eaters is don’t fight that battle. They will grow out of it and probably sooner than you think.
As you can see, Franky the Finicky Flamingo, was inspired by my own and my daughter’s
pickiness. So far it’s receiving rave reviews. It’s a fun, rhyming picture book that children will soon memorize the words and be “reading” along with you!
Available on Amazon at for only $2.99!!

Introducing New Music by Ralph Lee Ridenour

I have stumbled upon an excellent musician. not just a singer but one of those true musicians that write his own lyrics creates the music in all forms and records his compositions.  I am providing four of his songs that touched me in many ways. There were other songs that pulled to me but I didn’t want to share all his work on here.  Let’s get to know Ralph Lee Ridenour.

Ralph Lee Ridenour has been creating original music his entire life. He has been writing as far back as he can remember and his first song was written at 6 years old and was entitled I love you baby, baby, baby.

As a musician he has lived and worked in Hollywood, San Francisco, Nashville and has settled in the neighboring city of Lexington, Kentucky. This is where it was my pleasure to meet this very talented man.

Ralph Lee Ridenour has a history of filling music halls in many cities around the country. Now it is Kentucky’s turn to host this musical marvel.  When he sings it is brilliant. His harmonies make me close my eyes and just listen to his words. Even when the song is rock it comes across as deep and touches me in a nice way.  Queen of Chaos is hard hitting and I loved it.  I really had a difficult time choosing which songs to share. So my suggestion is that you subscribe to his YouTube channel and hear them all.

When asked what he wants for the future, he simply responded, ” I want to survive it.”

When you look to become a fan here is where you can find Ralph Lee Ridenour.  Surround him with your musical love and let him know which songs you loved most.